7 steps to improving the health and wellbeing of your employees
Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, employers are responsible, as far as is reasonably practicable, for the safety, health and welfare of his or her employees. This not only applies to hazards that can affect the employee physically but also hazards that can affect them psychologically.
Employers are required to identify and assess potential risks to their employees and monitor risk factors in the workplace to ensure those factors do not impact their employees’ mental and physical wellbeing.
Where the employer becomes aware of an employee with mental health issues, the employer has a duty of care to ensure that, so far as is reasonable, the employee has access to support and facilities for their welfare in line with providing a safe working environment. For example, employee assistance programmes (EAP), accommodations made by the employer such as an alternative work, reduction in working hours or part-time work. In some cases, an employee may have to be referred for an occupational health assessment (OHA).
Promote open communication
Communication is key to any relationship. The employee-employer relationship is the same as any other relationship. A breakdown in communication can be the root cause of many workplace issues, that, at times lead to work-related stress and long-term absences. Teams can avoid or resolve internal issues with good communication that promotes active and thoughtful listening and respectful and professional responses. Having a culture of open communication will create trust, loyalty, engagement, teamwork, and overall healthy workplace relationships.
Promote awareness of mental health
Mental health issues can have a significant impact on employee wellbeing. Employers should provide support for employees who are suffering from mental health issues including anxiety and depression. The culture in an organisation and the level of awareness will affect an employee’s decision to confide in their employer. Employers and managers have a key role in promoting mental health awareness through their behaviours towards someone suffering from mental health issues. Where possible, managers should be given training on how to identify and deal with mental health issues in the workplace. Employees should be provided with information on improving their mental well-being and also where to seek professional help if needed.
Develop a well-being programme
A well-being programme is an important tool for employers to ensure their employees are offered the opportunity to participate in well-being activities, such as connecting with co-workers, being more active and taking part in active and social activities, healthy eating and fun workplace challenges.
Carry out regular risk assessments
H&S risk assessments should be carried out and updated regularly. More often, people tend to think of the physical side of the risk assessment such as manual handling, workspace, trips and falls etc. However, another important aspect of the risk assessment is the psychological welfare of employees that protects them from workplace stress. Therefore, you should implement a Stress Management Policy and complete a stress risk assessment with employees.
Accommodate employees when required
There may be times when an employee, whether it be physically or psychologically ill, will need time off to recuperate and on their return, they are not fully fit to return to their normal working hours or their normal duties. Employers are encouraged to accommodate employees were reasonably practicable.
Use an Occupational Health Physician
When it comes to an employee’s health, always seek professional advice from an occupational health physician before making any decisions regarding an employee’s terms. An occupational health physician will carry out an occupational health assessment on the employee. The assessment will provide the employer with professional advice on accommodating an employee and on the expected duration of their illness.
Provide an Employee Assistance Programme
An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a voluntary, work-based program that offers free and confidential assessments, short-term counselling, referrals, and follow-up services to employees who have personal and/or work-related problems. EAPs can help employers reduce absenteeism, improve employee productivity and engagement, and reduce costs related to employee turnover.
If you are an employer and have concerns for your employee’s mental wellbeing, contact Boyd HR for professional advice.